Tuesday, August 8, 2017


*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links*

I have some cute pictures from Lucy's first birthday party to share with you later this week, but today and tomorrow I'll have a couple of book reviews for you. I feel like summer reads should be light and fun, and as we go into fall (already, I know, I'm also in denial about this) I tend to pick up "heavier" reads, and this would be a perfect one to add to that list.

Dryland - Nancy Stearns Bercaw

For swimming champion Nancy Stearns Bercaw, the pool was a natural habitat. But on land, she could never shake the feeling of being a fish out of water. Starting at age two, Nancy devoted her life to swimming, even qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the fifty-meter freestyle event. But nearly two decades later, when she hung up her cap and goggles, she was confronted with a different kind of challenge: learning who she was out of the lanes.
In this honest, intimate memoir, Nancy reflects on her years wandering the globe, where tragic events and a lost sense of self escalate her dependence on booze. Thirty-three years after her first sip of alcohol, the swimmer comes to a stunning realization while living with her husband and son in Abu Dhabi—she’s drowning in the desert. Nancy looks to the Bedouin people for the strength to conquer one final opponent: alcohol addiction.
I have to tell you right up front that I don't drink alcohol. Not at all, ever. My biological father was an alcoholic and I remember learning about genetics and being predisposed to things like alcoholism in high school. It terrified me. The more I got to thinking about it the more I realized I likely would never know when I had crossed that line from casual drinker to alcoholic, can any addict tell you when they officially became that person? I didn't think it would be possible, to tip toe to that line and beat a genetic fate so I just never did it. I have friends who are in various stages of recovery, some who won't seek help, and even more who can casually drink and not let it become a problem. Truly, I think everyone can relate to this book. 

Nancy is an accomplished swimmer from a young age, constantly trying to win at winning, and is also an alcoholic. The book follows her from present day living in Abu Dhabi, deep in the throes of addiction and mental illness, and her rise to greatness beginning as a child. The greatest part about this book is the way Nancy shares her story, while most of us can't relate to being a competitive swimmer or being an American in a foreign land, it doesn't matter. She is so raw, and so unflinchingly honest that you feel like you're talking to a friend confessing the rock bottom of her life. Her mission to just get a medication refill that turns into a medical journey that prompts her to make changes and embark on the hardest race of her life, sobriety. 

Overall? I really enjoyed this book, a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Her life living in different countries, being a part of the Peace Corps, her childhood and seeking validation through success and achievements, and her life as an alcoholic, I think so many women will identify with her. It's a fast read, it's around 250 pages but I was able to fly right through it easily and quickly. And of course, if you are on the road to sobriety, I think you'll enjoy this and hopefully see this as a positive beacon of hope. 


Mermaid of the Desert said...

Thanks for this great review! I appreciate your very thoughtful comments. --Nancy

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

Very much enjoyed your review! I too read Dryland fast...unlike you, however, I saw myself throughout Nancy's story. I'm 15 months sober, and I think it's so important for all of us to share our stories. My family is filled with alcoholics; I had no business taking my first drink and so wish I'd had the resolve that you did.

Mermaid of the Desert said...

Peppermint Ph.D., hello sister!

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Addiction of any sort is so incredibly debilitating. I applaud the author for finding her way through it and sharing her story in such a relatable way.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Suko said...

Wonderful review, Sara! I am new to your lovely blog. I am also on the TLC tour for this memoir, and just posted my review this morning.